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Monday, August 4, 2014

Movie Review - Guardians of the Galaxy

Within the successful Marvel Studios, a remarkable collection of superheroes has been ingeniously brought together into what we now know as Marvel's The Avengers! As this group of heroes has now been firmly established into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a new, even more original team has been introduced into Phase 2 of Marvel Studio's movie projects with their 10th film: Guardians of the Galaxy
Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), is a notorious outlaw and thief, who, while stealing a mysterious orb on an abandoned planet, is drawn into a plot of galactic proportions which jeopardizes the fate of the universe! While escaping from the forces of the megalomaniacal Ronan, The Accuser (Lee Pace); Quill is arrested by the Nova Corps and sentenced to an orbiting penal colony along with the bounty hunters Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper) & Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel), and the assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana). While in prison, he teams up with this motley crew along with Drax, (Dave Bautista) The Destroyer, who has a grudge against Ronan, and escapes prison to find a way to stop Ronan from getting the orb and destroying the galaxy!
Guardians of the Galaxy is an epic, space adventure, which combines Star Wars-like Sci-Fi/Fantasy with swashbuckling action, and irreverent humor; combined with a bizarre soundtrack full of 1970's pop-music.
While characters such as Captain America, Hulk, Iron Man and Thor have earned their place in pop-culture for the last 50 years, this team is relatively "new" to the Marvel Universe. The original Guardians of the Galaxy appeared in Marvel Super-Heroes #18, 1969 with heroes such as Major Victory, Starhawk, and Yondu. Although they remained a third-string team through much of their history, appearing alongside other major Marvel heroes such as The Avengers, they finally managed to get their own title in 1990 until it was cancelled in 1995. This Guardians however, is NOT that team! This newer Guardians of the Galaxy team first appeared in 2008 formed in the aftermath of the Annihilation: Conquest story-line in Marvel comics, shortly before the Disney acquisition of Marvel Comics. The current team in the comics includes Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket Raccoon & Groot, along with Quasar and Adam Warlock. For the movie's sake, Warlock and Quasar, not to mention Nova, are not present, which leaves room for their appearance (no doubt) in Guardians 2? [Minor Spoilers]: This movie finally features a full (although brief) appearance from the cosmic villain Thanos (Josh Brolin), who appeared in the end-credits of Avengers (2012), and also an appearance from The Collector (Benicio Del Toro) who made an appearance in the end-credits in Thor: The Dark World (2013). A few surprising guest appearances in this movie as other minor characters including Glenn Close as Nova Prime, John C. Reily as Corpsman Dey and Michael Rooker as Yondu. While it seemed unbelievable that a talking fully-CG Raccoon could convince an audience and become a fan favorite was a stroke of genius with the combination of state-of-the-art CGI technology and Bradley Cooper's comic talent. Also, despite Groot's three-word vocabulary: "I AM GROOT!", this seemingly one dimensional (or "wooden") character voiced by action-star Vin Diesel, is the source of much of the pathos in the team. While actress Zoe Saldana is often comfortable in Sci-Fi franchises (Star Trek) as well as colorful-skinned aliens (Avatar), she holds her own as a strong and complicated woman. While there are few differences from the comic book, one most crucial being that making Star-Lord a space-pirate and not the interplanetary policeman he was meant to be.
Full of Sci-Fi/Fantasy action, humor, and wonder, Guardians of the Galaxy is a new and impressive addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe which, although has been growing in popularity, has also been suffering from lack-luster sequels to make way for their bigger titles while still mired in legal mumbo-jumbo between Disney, Sony and 20th Century Fox on the rest of their comic properties. When Guardians was first announced, I admit, I was not very impressed; convinced that Marvel had finally reached the bottom of the barrel on characters NOT owned by other studios. And along with the controversy from Ant-Man (2015) director Edgar Wright dropping out of the scene, it seemed that Marvel had hit a huge speed-bump. Despite a lack of a clear plot, whether it is the unique combination of colorful characters, tongue-in-cheek humor, Sci-Fi action and special effects, Guardians of the Galaxy is a truly fun and entertaining movie, plain and simple. While Sony still clings to the Spider-Man franchise, and Fox runs the X-Men franchise into the ground, Marvel is still at the top of the blockbuster game, and until the fanboys (like myself) are satiated until Avengers: Age of Ultron comes out in 2015, Guardians of the Galaxy is number one (for now), having already earned $94 million in its first week!
LINKS: Marvel.com, Official Guardians Movie Website, Marvel Wikia